Thursday, December 24, 2020

From Ian:

US begins to label settlement products as ‘Made in Israel’
US Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday said an order requiring goods made in Israeli-controlled areas of the West Bank to be labeled as “Made in Israel” has come into effect.

The policy shift was announced by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in November following an unprecedented visit to a West Bank settlement, where he visited a winery. It’s unclear whether the incoming Biden administration will uphold the order.

Since 1995, US policy has required products made in the West Bank and Gaza to be labeled as such. That directive was republished in 2016 by the Obama administration, which warned that labeling goods as “made in Israel” could lead to fines. Prior to the Oslo Accords, however, all products manufactured in these areas were required to mention Israel in their label when exporting to the United States.

With Pompeo’s newly announced rules, which he said were “consistent with our reality-based foreign policy approach,” all producers within areas where Israel exercises authority — most notably Area C under the Oslo Accords – will be required to mark goods as Israeli-made.

“This document notifies the public that, for country of origin marking purposes, imported goods produced in the West Bank, specifically in Area C under the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement (the Oslo Accords), signed on September 28, 1995, and the area known as ‘H2’ under the Israeli-Palestinian Protocol Concerning Redeployment in Hebron and Related Documents (the Hebron Protocol), signed January 17, 1997, must be marked to indicate their origin as ‘Israel,’ ‘Product of Israel,’ or ‘Made in Israel,'” the US Customs notice said.

Goods manufactured in Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank will be marked as made in the West Bank, while Gaza-produced items must indicate they were made in the Palestinian coastal enclave, the order added, rejecting any joint “West Bank/Gaza” labels that had been permitted since 1997.

The new guidelines were effective as of Wednesday, though importers were given a 90-day grace period to implement the changes.

Eugene Kontorovich: Trump Was Right To Recognize Moroccan Sovereignty Over Western Sahara
The Trump administration has achieved yet another success in brokering peace between Israel and the Islamic world, with the recent announcement of normalized relations between Israel and Morocco. The U.S. benefits greatly from good relations between two of its long-standing Middle East allies—and as part of the arrangement, the U.S. agreed to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed territory of Western Sahara. There is nothing unusual about adding "sweeteners" to such deals: The Carter administration, for example, made Egypt one of the largest non-NATO recipients of U.S. aid as a result of the Camp David Accords between Cairo and Jerusalem.

But the Western Saharan recognition has come under attack from those who had long supported unsuccessful policies for resolving the conflict. Former National Security Advisor John Bolton and Former Secretary of State James Baker both penned op-eds lambasting President Trump's move. These criticisms claim that the recognition is a radical departure from both U.S. policy and international law norms. Neither claim has any basis.

First, some background. Western Sahara had never been an independent state; rather, it was a Spanish colony until 1975, when Spanish rule crumbled at the end of the Franco regime. Morocco promptly took control of Western Sahara as the Spanish were on their way out, leading to a three-way conflict with Mauritania and the Algeria-backed Polisario guerrilla group. Morocco prevailed and has administered the territory as its "southern provinces" ever since.

The United Nations has described Morocco's presence as an "occupation" in a couple of resolutions. But much of the international community, including the United States, has taken a more ambiguous position, describing the territory as "disputed" between Morocco and the Polisario, which claims to govern an independent state that it calls the Sahrawi Arabic Democratic Republic. Newsweek subscription offers >

The double-barreled attack on the deal by Baker and Bolton seems designed to give an opening for the Biden administration to renege on the deal, and to cite senior Republican officials as support. But Baker and Bolton are hardly disinterested in this matter. Baker had served as a UN special envoy for the Western Sahara issue and was the author of the latest failed peace plan for the area: a "two-state solution" known as the Baker Plan. Bolton worked for Baker on these issues at the State Department.
The Collapse of Palestinian Grand Strategy
The Palestinian quest for an internationally imposed “solution,” which would not require them to negotiate a compromise deal with Israel, has failed. Palestinian leaders may attempt this again after Joe Biden becomes US president, but this will fail yet again, since the collapse of their past strategy is due to much more than the policies of the Trump Administration. Indeed, evolving regional and global realities allow for a new Israeli peace initiative, which can preserve the underlying principles of the Trump outline for peace.

During the US presidential transition period, Israel faces a challenge and an opportunity regarding the Palestinians. The challenge may result from a Palestinian attempt to co-opt the incoming US Administration and revive its “grand strategy” of international coercion against Israel. However, the underlying assumptions of that strategy are now largely passe. The attempt to isolate Israel and boycott it in the international community, and thus force it into surrender, have thoroughly failed. This is not simply the result of President Trump’s policies (although they contributed to this outcome). Palestinian failures, rather, reflect a profoundly changed landscape, regionally and globally.

Foundational aspects of the regional order have changed. There has been a breakthrough towards peace and normalization with three Arab countries. Moreover, the Arab League (under Egypt’s guidance) refused to consider the Palestinian complaint against “normalizers” and the Abraham Accords. Even European position(s) towards Israel are showing signs of reconsideration, against the background of a violent challenge by Islamist terror.

Rather than reduce the prospects for peace and stability, these developments make them more likely. Many countries around the world want to engage with Israel. Consequently, the Palestinians would be wrong to assume that their strategy of isolating Israel can be revived with Trump’s departure.
JINSA PodCast: Sanctions, Sanctions, Sanctions
What makes for a good sanctions regime? Is regime change a reasonable policy goal for a sanctions regime? Does COVID-19 change the calculus for economic sanctions? What changes to the U.S. sanctions regime, if any, might we expect during the transition from the Trump Administration to the Biden Administration with regards to Iran, Russia, and China? The Hon. Stephen Rademaker, former Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation, joins The National Security Digest to offer his assessment of the U.S. sanctions approach. Mr. Rademaker currently serves as Senior Of Counsel at Covington in D.C, as well as a Senior Advisor to JINSA’s Gemunder Center and a Member of JINSA’s Iran Policy Project.

Netanyahu says ‘many, many more’ Arab states to normalize ties with Israel soon
Two days after Israel and Morocco signed their first deals in the process of establishing full diplomatic relations, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that “many, many more countries” would be signing normalization agreements with the Jewish state “a lot sooner than people expect.”

Meeting with US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft as she visited Israel, Netanyahu thanked the Trump administration for consistently “defending the truth and defending the State of Israel” at the United Nations.

“President Trump and his team have done wonders to dispel so many of the myths and slanders against the Jewish people and the Jewish state and we are eternally grateful for that,” he said.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan, accompanying Craft on her trip, also commended the US diplomat, saying: “You were instrumental in triggering the snapback mechanism against Iran to ensure that critical sanctions remain in place. You truly understand that a nuclear Iran is an existential threat, not only to Israel but to the entire world.”

Describing a shift in international geopolitics, Netanyahu said “there are great opportunities” for Israel at the international body.

“You can see the Arab countries, some have already come forward, others are coming forward… I think we should continue that policy and we’re going to see many, many more countries, a lot more than people expect and perhaps a lot sooner than people expect,” he said.
‘We Were the Most Pro-Israel, Pro-Arab/Muslim Administration I Can Think Of’
Less than a month before US President Donald Trump is set to leave the White House, his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and US Special Representative for International Negotiations Avi Berkowitz spoke to Israel Hayom in a joint interview from Morocco about their experiences as members of the administration over the past four years.

“We were the most pro-Israel administration that I can think of,” said Kushner, “but we were also the most pro-Arab/Muslim. We built trust by standing with our allies and partners. President Trump earned the trust of the people in the region and that gave us the credibility to advance our initiatives.”

Among the projects he most enjoyed working on, he said, was the Abraham Accords.

Berkowitz echoed the sentiment, recalling how he had realized while taking a photo of the flight path on Trump’s first flight from Saudi Arabia to Israel in 2017 that a breakthrough could be made between the countries.

“That showed us that even then, things didn’t have to be the way they were. The privilege I had of working on the Abraham Accords later on has proven that.”

The two said that it was precisely because the Trump administration did not belong to the establishment that they were able to be more creative in their thinking, which resulted in far-reaching steps like the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Berkowitz said that they had heard from regional leaders of their desire to normalize ties with Israel four years ago.
Trump gives awards to top aides for Arab-Israeli deals
President Donald Trump gave national security awards on Wednesday to several top advisers for their role in helping broker agreements aimed at normalizing relations between Israel and four countries in the Arab world.

Trump awarded the National Security Medal to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, senior adviser Jared Kushner, Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and John Rakolta, US ambassador to the United Arab Emirates.

"Thanks to the efforts of these individuals, the region will never be the same as it finally moves beyond the conflicts of the past," the White House said in a statement.

In the past four months, Israel reached deals with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco as part of what the United States calls "the Abraham Accords."

Senior US officials are hoping to seal one more agreement before Trump's term expires on Jan. 20.
Netanyahu Thanks Craft for ‘Powerful’ Defense of Israel at UN
US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft met in Jerusalem on Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu thanked Craft — who is set to be replaced by Linda Thomas-Greenfield after US President-elect Joe Biden takes office next month — for the “strong position that you have held in the United Nations representing the powerful position and consistent position that President [Donald] Trump has had defending the truth and defending the State of Israel.”

“President Trump and his team have done wonders to dispel so many of the myths and slanders against the Jewish people and the Jewish state and we are eternally grateful for that,” the Israeli leader added. “We think there are great opportunities. You must be seeing that, as does [Israeli] Ambassador [Gilad] Erdan at the United Nations. You can see the Arab countries, some have already come forward, others are coming forward. You see this great change in this circle of peace, real peace, peace for peace and peace through strength that is being realized with this continual American assistance. I think we should continue that policy and we’re going to see many, many more countries, a lot more than people expect and perhaps a lot sooner than people expect.”

Erdan also attended the meeting. He told Craft, “You were instrumental in triggering the snapback mechanism against Iran to ensure that critical sanctions remain in place. You truly understand that a nuclear Iran is an existential threat, not only to Israel but to the entire world.”

Craft later tweeted, “Honor to meet with PM @netanyahu, whose leadership of Israel has opened possibilities for peace & prosperity. The Abraham Accords are a historic breakthrough, and the US hopes Israel’s newly established relationships for UAE, Bahrain, Sudan & Morocco are just the beginning.”
Grenell appointment to Holocaust Memorial Council met with mixed reactions
President Donald Trump on Tuesday appointed former acting director of US national intelligence Richard Grenell to serve as a member of the Holocaust Memorial Council in Washington D.C.

The appointment was met by mixed reactions from across the political spectrum. Some American Jewish leaders praised the appointment of Grenell, who also served as ambassador to Germany.

“No US Ambassador posted to Berlin in recent history has done more to combat antisemitism in Germany, from neo-Nazis to Islamists linked to Iran and Hezbollah than Richard Grenell,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Jerusalem Post during a Zoom conversation on Wednesday.

Cooper said it "is a disgrace if anyone tries to smear him" in response to an anti-Grenell tweet from Halie Soifer, the CEO of Jewish Democratic Council of America, who accused Grenell of seeking to 'empower' far-right parties & anti-establishment conservatives in Europe." On the other hand, figures in Germany's Jewish community criticized the appointment and Grenell for lauding the rise of the “anti-establishment” right in Germany and Europe. “Anti-establishment” was seen as a euphemism for hypernationalist right-wing parties that have engaged in apologetics about Europe’s anti-Jewish past.

After making friends with Gulf, Israel brings in influencers to reach its people
A group of 11 young Emiratis and Bahrainis Facebooked, tweeted and Instagrammed their way through Israel this month, part of an influence campaign funded by Americans and Israelis aimed at marketing Israel in light of the recent Gulf normalization deals.

The trip was organized by a newly formed organization made up of Israeli Jews and Arabs known as Sharaka (Arabic for partnership), and it grew out of a similar trip to the Gulf recently made by a group of Israel Defense Forces veterans, many of whom are part of both groups.

“We want to make an actual warm peace,” said Amit Deri, who heads both Sharaka and Reservists on Duty, the IDF group (the two groups are technically unrelated to one another).

Deri contrasted the ties he was hoping to foster with the “cold” peace agreements that Israel has with Egypt and Jordan, whose governments maintain significant high-level security ties with Jerusalem, but whose populations generally have a negative view of the Jewish state.

The delegation was made up primarily of young men and women chosen for their social media followings, and come from influential families in the Gulf. One dominant figure on the trip, Amjad Taha, a Bahrain-based British Arab commentator on regional politics, who is deeply critical of Iran and the Palestinians, maintains over 300,000 followers on Twitter. Others have a few thousand followers on Instagram and other platforms.

The group arrived on December 11 and traveled throughout the country, from Jerusalem to the Golan Heights, meeting Jewish, Druze, and Bedouin Israelis along the way, including President Reuven Rivlin, before returning home seven days later.

Moroccan FM praises Moroccan discretion in building ties with Israel
In the wake of the signing of normalization agreements between Israel and Morocco, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Burita told i24News about behind-the-scenes contacts between the two countries that have led to the agreements and explained that "since 2018, there have been many contacts, as His Majesty the King instructed."

Burita explained, "His Excellency spoke with the President of the United States and sent delegations to the United States, not only to meet with the Americans, but also with the Israelis."

Burita was asked during the interview about the discreet contacts and the rumor that he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations General Assembly.

"The main feature of Moroccan diplomacy is that we work with complete discretion. Morocco has never been a braggart," he told i24News. "It is very clear that the Moroccan model has inspired peace efforts. In Morocco, the idea of ​​living together, Jews and Muslims living side by side, is not just an idea, it is a reality. It is part of our history, a reality that Moroccans lived in during the history of Morocco."

MEMRI: Tunisian Singer Noamane Chaari Faces Threats, Accusations Of Treason, Sanctions For Performing Duet With Israeli Singer
Over the past two weeks, Tunisian singer and composer Noamane Chaari has been facing harsh attacks in his country for releasing a new song performed with Israeli singer Ziv Yehezkel.

Titled "Peace Among Neighbors," the song expresses hope for peace and coexistence between Arabs and Jews. It was recorded by the two singers in separate studios in Israel and Tunisia due to the coronavirus travel restrictions. Its lyrics were written by a Yemeni poet who wished to remain anonymous to avoid threats by extremists.[1]

The song was an initiative and production of the Arab Council for Regional Integration (ACRI), which supports civil engagement across borders of conflict generally and Arab-Israeli rapprochement specifically, and of which Chaari is a founding member. Posted December 10, 2020 on the organization's YouTube channel, the song was also widely circulated on social media, both within Tunisia and in the broader region.[2] Within one week of its posting, the song was viewed over 1.5 million times on various platforms.

The circulation of the song sparked intense condemnations in Tunisia from journalists, media figures, political activists and social media users, who condemned it as an act of normalization with Israel and accused Chaari of betraying the Palestinian cause and offending millions of Tunisians. Some called on him to apologize, urged musicians and their syndicates to ostracize him, demanded that the courts prosecute him, and even called for his execution. Measures against him were indeed taken, including his firing from his job with a Tunisian government-owned television channel.

In response, ACRI and Tunisian artists launched a defense and solidarity campaign for the singer. They affirmed that art should be separate from politics and that there is nothing wrong with Chaari's action.
Palestinian arrested in suspected terrorist killing of Israeli mother of six
The Shin Bet security service announced on Thursday that it had arrested a Palestinian man suspected of murdering Israeli woman Esther Horgen early this week in the West Bank.

Horgen, 52, a mother of six, went for a run in the Reihan forest near her house in the settlement of Tal Menashe on Sunday afternoon and did not return, whereupon her husband, Benjamin, notified the police. Her body was found in the early hours of Monday in the forest, apparently after she was killed violently.

The Shin Bet said the suspect, a resident of Jenin, was detained for interrogation.

Palestinian media named the detainee as a 36-year-old man from Tura, a town in the Jenin governorate around 2.5 kilometers’ drive from Tal Menashe. The reports further indicated that he had served time in Israeli prisoner for security offenses. The Times of Israel confirmed the detainee’s arrest and prior jail time, but the prisoner’s identity remains under a gag order.

Esther’s husband hailed the news of the suspect’s arrest.

“We of course commend [the security forces]; I was sure it was going to happen sooner or later,” Benjamin Horgen said in a statement. “They did the job in a terrific way, and we trust the security forces and the courts, and of course expect justice to be served to the fullest with the despicable murderer.”

“Just as we always do, we used all the means the security apparatus has at its disposal, and we have speedily arrested the suspect in the horrific murder of Esther Horgen. The IDF and all security forces will reach every terrorist and stomp on terror every time and place it rears its head,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in a tweet.
Third coronavirus lockdown rules - everything you need to know
The government voted late Wednesday night to roll out a countrywide closure that will be imposed beginning Sunday, December 27 at 5 p.m. for two weeks, with the option to extend if the number of new daily cases is still over 1,000.

The following is a detailed list of COVID-19 closure regulations:
> Movement will be restricted to 1,000 meters from home, except in exceptional cases
> Prohibition on staying in another person’s residence
> Retail, entertainment and leisure - closed, except for deliveries
> Businesses that do not receive the public can operate at 50%
> Public transportation will run at 50% capacity
> Gatherings will be reduced to 10 people in closed spaces and 20 people in open spaces
> The Eilat and Dead Sea “green islands” will cease to operate
> Exercise permitted on one’s own at any distance from home
> Preschoolers and students in grades 1-4 and 11-12 will go to school for regular days
> Special education will continue as usual
> Children of divorced parents will be allowed to move between households
Argentine Jews React With Fury as Key Suspect in 1994 AMIA Bombing Atrocity Is Acquitted
In a shock decision on Wednesday, an Argentine federal court acquitted the individual charged with supplying the truck that was used in the deadly terrorist bombing of the AMIA Jewish center on July 18, 1994, in which 85 people were murdered and more than 300 wounded.

The acquittal of the defendant, Carlos Telleldin, symbolized the grave judicial errors in pursuing those responsible for the Iran-orchestrated bombing, scandalizing the Argentine Jewish community, which had expected a conviction, as well.

In a joint statement after the verdict was announced, AMIA and the DAIA — the umbrella body representing Argentine Jews — condemned the decision for “consecrating, in a shameful manner, the path of impunity.”

The statement declared that the “acquittal of the person who participated in the delivery of the Trafic van that blew up the Pasteur 633 headquarters (the AMIA building), in what was the worst terrorist attack in the country’s history, is a deeply regrettable fact, which adds more pain and generates an inexplicable bewilderment in the face of the evidence presented.”

Remarking that they had been “tirelessly pursuing justice for more than 26 years,” the two groups pledged to appeal Wednesday’s decision.
Pakistani court orders release of men accused of murdering Daniel Pearl
A Pakistani court on Thursday ordered the immediate release of four men accused of orchestrating the 2002 kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, including the main suspect earlier sentenced to death for masterminding the killing.

In April the same court - the Sindh High Court - commuted the death sentence of the main suspect, British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, and acquitted three others citing a lack of evidence against them.

Despite the decision, Pakistani authorities have kept the four in custody for the last eight months, citing reasons of law and order. “All the petitioners ... shall be released from jail forthwith on the receipt of this order, unless they are wanted in any other custody case or any order against their release has been passed by the Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan,” Thursday's court order read.

The April order has been challenged by the government at the Supreme Court, and Pearl's parents have also petitioned the country's highest judicial forum seeking the overturning of the decision to acquit the suspects.

The appeals are still being heard.

Pearl, 38, a Wall Street Journal reporter, was investigating Islamist militants in Karachi after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States when he was kidnapped.

His case grabbed headlines globally, after a video of his beheading emerged weeks after he was abducted.
Richard Kemp: Jihad at Christmas: "Coldly Kill Them with Hate and Rage"
Christmas is an attractive time for jihadists for three unattractive reasons.

Many of the examples of failed terrorist plots show that Western security authorities have had considerable success in protecting us all, including the numerous Muslim victims of Islamic jihad. We might have even greater confidence in government officials and security officials if they and the media told us the truth about the religious doctrine that really lies behind these attempts to murder us and destroy our way of life, no better illustrated than by their obsession with Christmas.

[M]any of those responsible for our security have themselves been indoctrinated with politically correct falsehoods which can only obstruct their efforts to prevent innocent people from being coldly killed with hate and rage at Christmas or anytime else.
PMW: Who was the Palestinian Jesus?
According to the Palestinian Authority, Jesus was:
“The first Palestinian”
“The first Palestinian Martyr”
“The first Palestinian fida'i (self-sacrificing fighter)”
“A Palestinian messenger”
“A Palestinian par excellence”
“The great grandfather of the Palestinian people”
A prophet of Islam (not Christianity)

And accordingly:
Christmas is a Palestinian national holiday

The Palestinian Authority is desperate to create a Palestinian identity built on an ancient Palestinian history, even though none existed. PMW has shown that PA regularly falsely claims that it is a 5000-year-old nation, and regularly claims other people’s history to be its own. One of the striking examples of this is the PA’s falsely linking themselves to one of the most significant figures of all time, claiming that Jesus, a Jew from the nation of Judea, was actually a Palestinian.

This PA fairy-tale history is a repeating message, trumpeted even by the leaders of the Palestinian Authority. Saeb Erekat said Jesus was “the first Palestinian.” Mahmoud Abbas spoke about “Jesus… a Palestinian messenger,” and said that Christmas is a Palestinian holiday.” Yasser Arafat said "Jesus was the first Palestinian Martyr.” The official PA daily just this week wrote that “Jesus… was the first Palestinian fida'i (self-sacrificing fighter),” and a PA diplomat even claimed that Palestinians are the descendants of Jesus: “Jesus … was the great grandfather of the Palestinian people.” And this morning on PA TV, the PA Government Spokesman Ibrahim Melhem, sent blessings to Christians on the “holiday the birth of the Palestinian prophet Jesus the son of Mary.”

The top PA religious leaders likewise have adopted this myth, adding, based on Islamic claims, that Jesus preached not Christianity but Islam.

Once Jesus has been turned into a Palestinian, the PA likewise has to turn Mary into a Palestinian, who has been presented as the patron saint of the Palestinian cause. Finally, with Jesus a prominent Palestinian Christmas becomes a Palestinian national holiday.

MEMRI: Hamas Official Ahmad Kulab: It Is Forbidden For Muslims To Congratulate Christians On Christmas; Santa Claus Has Invaded Muslim Countries
In a December 19, 2020 broadcast on Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas-Gaza), Ahmad Kulab, the Head of the Department for Training of Preachers in Hamas' Ministry of Religious Endowments, warned against Muslim participation in Christmas celebrations. He said that it is forbidden for Muslims to congratulate Christians on their holidays, explaining that this would be denial of Islamic faith. Kulab added that Christian holiday celebrations must be restricted to Christian homes or places of worship. He also said that the image of Santa Claus constitutes an invasion of Muslim countries, and that it glorifies early Christian missionaries.

"Are We Supposed To Congratulate The Christians For Their Denial Of Allah?"
Ahmad Kulab: "We are not allowed to congratulate the Christians on their holidays. Christians must [keep] the celebration of their holidays to their homes, their houses of worship, and their churches."
Other speaker: "By themselves."
Kulab: "Yes.
"Are we supposed to congratulate the Christians for their denial of Allah?
"Santa Claus Constitutes An Invasion Of Muslim Countries"
"This culture has entered our Muslim countries and erases Islamic identity and faith. It changes the behavior of our children and contaminates their immaculate faith. In addition, the Holy Quran encourages us to dissent against the dwellers of Hellfire, the Jews and the Christians.
"Santa Claus is a witty and jolly personality who hands out sweets and presents in order to influence people. This image of Santa Claus constitutes an invasion of Muslim countries, because they want to ingrain the image of Santa Claus [among Muslim]. The character of Santa Claus glorifies prominent Christians, monks who used to propagate the Holy Trinity and Christianity among Roman youth, giving out presents, sweets, and so on.
PreOccupiedTerritory: We Palestinians Are The Original, Ancient Holders Of The COVID Vaccine, You Zionist Thieves by Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesman (satire)
Palestinians continue to suffer the world’s numbness to historic evil, and its frequent participation therein, most blatantly of late as international powers enable the Zionist oppression of this land’s indigenous population by claiming that they, and not we native Palestinians, have developed the immunizations crucial to slowing and stopping SARS-CoV-2. But Palestinians and their few remaining steadfast allies of convenience know the truth: the vaccine is ours, has always been ours, and no Zionist propaganda can falsify our exclusive right to it!

The injustices mount through the ages. Palestinians had the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine, even whatever bootleg Russian or Chinese vaccine for COVID long before anyone dreamed of such a thing as a “Jewish” people. We and our ancient ancestors, placed here by Allah Himself, have been loyal Muslim Palestinians since the beginning of time. We lived in harmony with the vaccine through millennia, until the colonialist Zionist pig-apes and their superpower allies wrested our peaceful, idyllic, vaccine-embracing people from this land and attempted to supplant us. But they, like the diseases they are, will fail.

For we are the people of the vaccine. We are willing to become martyrs, every last one of us, for the sake of this vaccine! Our enemies will cower under the fury we unleash in response to this ongoing armed robbery, this genocide that has made the Palestinian population grow tenfold over seventy years such that distribution of this vaccine we shamefully procured from Russia poses enormous logistical hurdles! It is OUR vaccine to distribute as we wish, favoring our own clans and cronies, not following some alien, colonialist sensibility about caring for all citizens equally.
Hizbullah's Global Trail of Criminality and Corruption
Many essential medicines are unobtainable in mainstream Lebanese hospitals and pharmacies. Yet in Hizbullah-land, a parallel system of health facilities exists where a full spectrum of cheap, Iran-imported drugs are readily available. With its system of parallel ATMs from which dollars are miraculously available, parallel schools, parallel banks, parallel economies, parallel systems for paying salaries - Hizbullah is profiteering from Lebanon's demise.

Hizbullah demands continued control over Lebanon's finance, health and transport ministries precisely because of the multiple opportunities for criminal gain. Lebanon's airport, ports and borders are nodes for smuggling arms and narcotics. Lebanese financial institutions have been sanctioned for laundering funds for Iran. Hizbullah was designated one of the top five global criminal organizations by the U.S. State Department in 2018.

Lebanese emigre clans operate vast narcotics networks embedded along the Venezuelan coast, primarily targeting the U.S. Hizbullah's spiritual advisers during the 1990s ruled that the narcotics trade was "morally acceptable if the drugs are sold to Western infidels as part of a war against the enemies of Islam."

I've always been proud to be Lebanese, but it's a source of intense shame when the world sees our beautiful nation hijacked by Hizbullah's corruption, criminality and terrorism.

JCPA: Iranian Intelligence Uses International Crime Organizations to Eliminate Opposition Activists and for Narco-Terrorist Activity
Revealed here: The secret of Iran’s intelligence “success” is its use of international crime organizations to kidnap exiled political activists and journalists around the world and transfer them to Iran for execution. And what is the role of the female Sununuh [“swallow bird”] agents?

A series of articles published recently in the Turkish, British, and American media indicate that Iranian intelligence is making effective use of major international crime organizations and drug cartels in several countries to advance its goals, notably capturing dissidents in the diaspora. These organizations have affiliates in other countries, for example Romania, a country where a senior Iranian judge was recently assassinated during a mysterious trip.

British and American news outlets reported that Turkish police recently arrested at least 13 members of an international crime organization on charges of collaborating with Iran’s intelligence services.

One such organization has become the long arm of Iranian intelligence. It is run by Naji Sharifi Zindashti, born in Oroumieh, Iran, and the son of a Peshmerga fighter. Zindashti was detained in Evin prison after a conviction for drug trafficking at the age of 20. He escaped from prison and lived in Turkey for many years. Zindashti had contacts with Turkish politicians in President Erdogan’s AKP party, but he made sure to donate financially to the organization headed by Fethullah Gülen, the leader of the Turkish opposition in exile who resides in the United States. Zindashti was reportedly a secret witness in the Ergenekon trial3 and detained on charges of attempting to topple Turkish government.4 He was mysteriously released from prison in 2010 from prison after his arrest in 2007 in Turkey for possession of 75 kg of heroin.5

Turkey’s official news agency, Anadolu, recently confirmed that Iran’s intelligence ministry used Zindashti’s organization to assassinate and kidnap Iranian dissidents on Turkish soil. Turkey suspects that Zindashti’s envoys have acted uninterrupted against Iranian exiles since at least 2015.
Israel open to German efforts to expand Iran nuclear deal with more restrictions
Israel welcomes a German push to expand the Iran nuclear deal into a broader security agreement once Joe Biden moves into the White House next month, its ambassador to Berlin told AFP.

Jeremy Issacharoff, the nation’s envoy in Germany since 2017, said a recent call by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to reassess the 2015 nuclear accord with a new US administration was a “step in the right direction.”

The 2015 nuclear deal — known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA — gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

Maas told Der Spiegel magazine this month that the existing agreement, under massive pressure after repeated Iranian violations and Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal in 2018, needed an overhaul.

The “nuclear agreement plus” envisaged by Maas would bar the development of nuclear weapons as well as place restrictions on Tehran’s ballistic rocket program and interference in countries around the region.

Biden has signaled that Washington could rejoin the deal as a starting point for follow-on negotiations if Iran returned to compliance.
150 House Democrats urge Biden to reenter Iran nuclear deal without conditions
A letter backing President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to reenter the Iran nuclear deal without any new conditions has garnered 150 signatures from House Democrats — enough to prevent any congressional bid to block the move.

The sentiments in the letter are in direct contradiction to the urgings of the Israel lobby group AIPAC, others in the center-right pro-Israel community and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Those groups want Biden to at least renegotiate components of the deal, if not forge a new one, before rejoining the 2015 pact. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action relieved sanctions on Iran in exchange for restrictions, monitored by outside observers, on the country’s nuclear program.

“We strongly endorse your call for Iran to return to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States to rejoin the agreement, and subsequent follow-on negotiations,” says the letter, which concluded its signature-gathering phase on Wednesday and is set to be sent to Biden.

The intended effect of the letter is to reassure Biden, who was vice president under president Barack Obama when the deal was negotiated by the United States and others, that he can rejoin the agreement without fear of pushback. The letter surpasses 146 names, the number needed to break the two-thirds majority that opponents of reentering the deal would need to override Biden’s veto of any legislation aimed at blocking reentry.
US Suspects Iranians Created Website Threatening US Election Officials
US security agencies said on Wednesday they had highly-credible information indicating that Iranian cyber actors were responsible for creating a website earlier this month featuring death threats aimed at US election officials.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Homeland Security Department’s Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency said in a statement that the Enemies of the People website, which surfaced after the US election but now appears dormant, demonstrated “an ongoing Iranian intent to create divisions and mistrust in the United States and undermine public confidence in the US electoral process.”

The agencies said they had previously warned that “Iranian cyber actors” likely were keen to influence and interfere with the 2020 US election.

“Iran is not involved in inciting violence and creating unrest in the United States,” Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for Iran’s UN mission, said in an email to Reuters.

“Iran itself is the largest victim of cyber attacks, including Stuxnet, and has always emphasized the need for the establishment of a global mechanism to prevent cyber attacks at the United Nations, and at other international institutions.”

The alleged Iranian-created website accused US officials involved in election security of “treason.”

The site, along with several associated social media accounts, included photographs of Republican and Democratic officials, with rifle crosshairs superimposed on them. It also included officials’ purported home addresses.
Iran Seeks to Create a Direct Front Against Israel from Southern Syria
A new report by Maj. (res.) Tal Beeri of the Alma Research and Education Center exposes efforts by the Iranian-led Shi'ite axis to build civilian support networks throughout southern Syria. Iran views a civilian infrastructure as a foundation for building a military-attack infrastructure against Israel. This effort received a green light from Abu Al-Fadl Al Tabatabai, a personal adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who visited the area in 2018.

"The Iranian-led Shi'ite axis sees southern Syria as a strategic area of paramount importance...enabling the creation of a direct Iranian front against Israel from southern Syria," the report said.

The civilian foothold begins with creating active links with the local population in order to create a dependence of the population on elements of the Shi'ite axis. This dependence produces sympathy. This sympathy enables the free action of Shi'ite axis elements inside and outside of the local population. The civilian entrenchment efforts are taking place in the Quneitra and Dara'a districts, with some additional efforts underway in the Druze Sweida region, although those activities are running into more local resistance.

Beeri spent 20 years as an intelligence officer in the Israel Defense Forces specializing in Lebanon and Syria. He said, "They want to copy the Lebanese model from south Lebanon to southern Syria. The only difference between these two areas is that in south Lebanon, most of the population is Shi'ite - this is the base of Hizbullah. In southern Syria, most of the population is Sunni."

But most of the local population is merely interested in survival, and Iran can help them in exchange for their assistance and support for its military activities. The report detailed the civilian services mushrooming in the area under Iranian sponsorship, including health, religion, education and relief agencies. A process of converting local Sunnis to the Shi'ite faith is underway, as well as an effort to resettle the families of Shi'ite militiamen in southern Syria.

Reading Anne Frank in Tehran: Diarist among top foreign authors for Iran’s women
French authors Albert Camus and Simone de Beauvoir rub shoulders with the likes of Jewish diarist Anne Frank and Russian poet Osip Mandelstam in Tehran bookstores where the largely female readership lap up foreign writers.

“Iranian women read more, translate more and write more. In general, they are more present in the book market than men,” said Nargez Mossavat, editorial director of Sales publishers.

“Books are a necessity for me, it’s the only refuge, which sometimes makes me angry,” said the 36-year-old author, without dwelling on the limitations to cultural life in the Islamic republic of Iran.

As a publisher, “I choose books that speak to our society today,” she said, pointing to work by Mandelstam, who died in a Gulag, or the novel “Minor Apocalypse” by Polish dissident writer Tadeusz Konwicki.

It’s an “excellent book that recounts a social and political experience similar to ours,” she said.

“They tell us that other people have also gone through bitterness, hardship, and survived.”

Reza Bahrami, 32, manages the main bookstore of another publisher, Cheshmeh, which means “source,” and said their “readership is 70 percent female.”

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